New Delhi: Sumit Nagal's spirited performance against Roger Federer in the first round match of the US Open is winning him appreciation from all over, but nobody could be more proud than the tennis star's family.
Sumit's mother and sister were thrilled about what he achieved on the hardcourt. The 22-year-old might have lost the match 6-4, 1-6, 2-6, 4-6, but his performance in the first set has given every Indian a reason to beam with joy. Nagal became the first Indian to defeat Federer in a set of a Grand Slam.
"It was a proud moment for us. No one thought that he would face Federer in his first match. Nagal's performance was very good. Even Federer said that the first set was difficult for him. Federer proved why is he called God of Tennis. But Nagal's performance in the first set made me very happy," Sumit's sister told ANI.
"If you have a look at social media, he is being hailed as the Indian Nadal. My friends told me that I will be called a celebrity as I am the sister of a tennis player. We downloaded the US Open App to watch Nagal's qualifying matches," she added.
She also said that when her husband told her that Nagal would face Federer in the first match, she was not able to believe it.
"My husband told me that Sumit would face Federer in the first round match. I thought my husband was joking when he said Federer would face Sumit. It was a big deal for us when we found out Nagal would face Federer. Everyone knew what the outcome of the match might be, but we just wanted to see how Sumit would fare in the match," Nagal's sister said.
Sumit's mother was also proud of what her boy achieved on the court. She gave an insight into how he used to prepare and how Mahesh Bhupathi played a role in his career.
"Sumit started playing tennis at an early age. Mahesh Bhupathi had a trial here and then he got a chance and he started playing along with him. He has faced many difficulties. We used to accompany him wherever he used to go to play the tournaments," Sumit's mother Krishna told ANI.
"We travelled entire Delhi to support our boy. We used to travel by bus. I am very happy to see my boy's performance today against Federer. He had injuries, but he was able to rise above them. Injuries are part and parcel of the game," she added.
The proud mother said that Sumit used to be a cricket lover, but his father being a tennis fanatic, encouraged him to take up the sport.
"Sumit used to be a lover of cricket. His father is a tennis lover, so we enrolled him in tennis. When the coach saw Sumit for the first time, he said to us that Sumit is a natural on the court. He was very good in studies as well and he used to manage his school and practice quite nicely," she said.
"I hope he continues to do well and makes the nation proud. He played his match against the god of tennis. If he faces him again, I hope he springs the result in his favour," Krishna added.
The first set was a closely fought affair as both Federer and Nagal went back and forth and at one stage the set was tied at 4-4. It was then that Nagal won games continuously, and the 22-year old won the first set 6-4.
In the second set, Federer came out all guns blazing and he was seen toiling with Nagal. Federer was able to win the second set 6-1.
The 38-year-old Federer was in no mood to slow down and he carried the momentum in the third set, and he easily wrapped up the set 6-2.
Nagal, who is currently ranked at the 190th position in the ATP rankings, was able to show grit in the fourth set as the scoreline was levelled at 2-2 at one stage, but Federer bounced back by playing an aggressive style of tennis, forcing Nagal to hang back on the court.
In the end, the Swiss won the fourth set 6-4 and ended up winning the match.
The 22-year-old Nagal had qualified for the US Open main draw on Friday.
Nagal had become the youngest Indian in 25 years to qualify for the main draw of a Grand Slam as he had defeated Brazil's Jaao Menezes 5-7, 6-4, 6-3.
He had earlier won the Wimbledon Boys' doubles title in 2015.